Getting Under the Skin

Getting Under the Skin

Can I be brutally honest about one of the reasons why I could never live in Hong Kong (where my parents are from…in case I was being presumptuous in you knowing that…) on a permanent basis?  Just don't stone me for weak and shallow superficiality though… 

Nothing to do with issues of err…healthcare, benefits, accommodation etc… 

Nay, there are just not enough vintage shops in Hong Kong.  Charity shops, even more of a scarcity.  For a person like me who relies on a charity shop treat to perk me up on a regular basis, this poses a problem.  I've briefly touched on some of the reasons why this is or at least tried to… I only grasp this from hearsay but it's a combination of the elder generation's attitude towards 'used' clothing, that it's considered 'unlucky' to wear a potentially dead person's clothes, that the local market just don't like buying used things (even when you buy new clothes, you normally ask the shop staff to get an untouched piece that hasn't been on the rails), that it's hard to source the stuff… all of that plus a dose of extra reluctance…

That said, I've personally been coming across a few vintage lovers in Hong Kong (Hilary and Dorothy of Liger being two of them…), as well as readers from Hong Kong who probe me for tips on shopping in London and now I'm glad to encounter another…

Enter Eileen Chan who has recently founding her label The Yesterday Skin… I lobbed her with some questions, which I thought would be a bit more insightful seeing as she'll have more of a grasp of the problem of the lack of vintage in Hong Kong.

‚ÄúBringing the past back to present, The Yesterdayskin is a very personal label collecting reformed vintage pieces. We hand-pick forgotten outfits and accessories all over the world, restyle and reconstruct them into new fashionable looks. The pieces are unique yet affordable, we want to share with all fashion lovers the treasures we found from history.‚Äù 

How do you source your vintage pieces?
I source my vintage everywhere, some of them are from local vintage stores like Mee & Gee* and Midwest (so sad they are practically the only local source for vintage clothes) or sometimes incidentally from some old stores and market. And some of them are the collections I got while traveling, from flea markets and stores in New York, Tokyo, and even Paris and  London. All the pieces are hand picked and restyled and reconstructed by myself.

How do you feel about Hong Kong people's attitude towards vintage – is it changing?
In my opinion, there must be a number of people loving vintage clothes. But it‚Äôs still not very popular among normal consumers. The mass media seldom cover this kind of fashion, or even if they do, they seldom mix and match them with high fashion pieces. As a result people may not see its potential of (vintage clothes) looking modern and 'high fashion'. Maybe it‚Äôs also the reason why you can hardly find good vintage stores in Hong Kong… I really hope the situation will change soon when people see how foreign/ local style icons wear vintage clothes. 

So now I am trying to do it in a more contemporary way, to ease the gap between vintage and high fashion. It‚Äôs definitely not a new idea to foreigners, because many of them are already wearing vintage in such a way. But that‚Äôs simply the way I want to make it. And the brand name ‚ÄúThe Yesterdayskin‚Äù represents this idea too. The pieces I found were once somebody‚Äôs second skin before, now I am treating them to a little bit of restyle or reconstruction, then they can get back into the modern fashion world, to find their new owner having them as second skin. 

*I visited Mee and Gee, a vintage store in HK that sells deadstock 60-90s Japanese clothes and whilst it was ridiculously cheap, I found it a little monotonous so it's pleasantly surprising to see those prints tweaked to look more interesting….

Ok, so re-appropriated, restyled, rejigged, revamped and any other re- word you want to bung in there is nothing new to the majority of us and even Elieen acknowledges this fact, but considering where she is positioning the label and looking at the pieces themselves, this is revamped vintage done very well indeed.  By simple tweaks of cuts and shapes as well as Eileen's choice of prints and fabrics, The Yesterday Skin presents a core collection of versatile pieces that are purposely trying to sit in a contemporary setting, in a similar way to the recent influx of vintage e-stores that carefully select stock that can be seen in a 'high fashion' context.  It's this precise attitude that Eileen feels the local Hong Kong customer on the whole has not yet grasped… I can't verify whether this is wholly true or not but I guess the number of vintage stores as well its representation in media in Hong Kong are fairly good indicators.  Even the lookbook images are very much styled and photographed in a way that pits the clothes as far away from any retro notions as possible so I predict Eileen will have a popular cookie on her hands… 

The e-store is set to launch mid May but for now you can reserve items through their Facebook page (price point guide… tops are around EUR40-55, blazers and dresses EUR50-60 with free shipping).  Bet you anything this pastel cloud-like floral number is gone gone gone already… I'm heading for the remoulded polo shirts and neat little Peter Pan collar blouses instead…



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Leave a comment
  1. saime

    2010-04-04 at 5:28 PM


  2. Winnie

    2010-04-04 at 5:34 PM

    Those pieces are amazing. I really like the third floral bed jacket…the vibrant prints chosen are amazing.
    I never really thought about the whole vintage thing too much…but come to think of it, it all makes sense with the ‘unlucky’ aspect. I suppose a lot of it is deeply ingrained in the suspicious culture.

  3. pearl

    2010-04-04 at 5:34 PM

    totally agree with the sad lack of vintage and even thrift stores in HK… i wonder where do all those old clothes go then?

  4. Sophia Schwan

    2010-04-04 at 5:46 PM

    Greeeat post! Very interesting, I never knew that. I guess you end up taking vintage stores for granted. You forgot about how other cultures might view such a thing. I really love the pieces. I’m off to reserve a few things!!! <3

  5. rouli

    2010-04-04 at 6:01 PM

    lovely posts!!!!!!!!!
    loved the floral designs…and the 2last pics!!!!!!!

  6. Style Slicker

    2010-04-04 at 6:09 PM

    Great post!
    As a vintage collector my mum said the same thing to me ‘Why are you wearing a dead person’s clothes/shoes? We won’t any bad luck in our home’ I still wear them Humph!

  7. melina bee

    2010-04-04 at 6:34 PM

    this is a wonderful and charming post! Honestly, I can not blame you for not wanting to live far from charity shops. I feel the same way. Her tops are really really cute. melina bee

  8. louise

    2010-04-04 at 6:44 PM

    susie this stuff is really great!
    the styling has really exceeded my expectations too!
    after my cousin from Hong Kong reassuring me ‘vintage just hasn’t caught on in HK’ this is such a good read!
    My cousin is the type that comes to London for Topshop haul & New Look and if anything, I found her reaction of wearing Vintage in HK is that she was scared of being ridiculed. There is a whole sense of pride and the thought of wearing Vintage may be passed as ‘oh that’s second-hand’ and may be seen as a pauper? which is mostly paranoia
    I made the mistake of taking her to Dover St Market first, where she aspired to the area and grandness of London and then onto Brick Lane. This was such a bad idea, as she hated thrifting and the sudden ‘downgrade’ of products..
    I found her attitude crazy as she was only willing to buy into the idea of vintage-look from Topshop! As she feels there is a comfort and security that comes from wearing Topshop!
    (also that day, I went into 3 different Topshops around London, because she was worried there may have been better products in each store!)

  9. Styletastic

    2010-04-04 at 6:47 PM

    aha, that was very enlightening…! Was wondering why I kept being brought “fresh” pieces all wrapped up in cellophane whenever I have attempted to buy clothes in HK…

  10. Shelley

    2010-04-04 at 6:56 PM

    I’ve been a fan of vintage since I was old enough to understand what the word meant. I love the re-jigged polo shirts, especially the black and gold stripe, and I’m not even a fan of polo shirts. I like the cape-like tops she’s made as well.

  11. felicia

    2010-04-04 at 7:48 PM

    these images are amazing…my absolutely favorite has to be when the model is wrapped up in the mesh netting. i love your blog, style bubble.

  12. Leonidas

    2010-04-04 at 8:12 PM

    I thought vintage and all fashion trends would be popular in hong kong. however the clothes in the images are beautiful

  13. Caroline

    2010-04-04 at 8:52 PM

    The model in these shots is just fantastic. I love the one of her snarling over the handbag! I too, would find life very harsh if there was a paucity of charity shops (or ‘opp’ – short for ‘opportunity’ – shops as they are known here in NZ)around. Most of my wardrobe is secondhand.

  14. Teawithonesugar

    2010-04-04 at 9:33 PM

    When I was a fashion student I wore a lot of vintage, charity clothes , it was all I could afford. My mum is also from HK and she used to say ‘someone could have died in that outfit’. It is strange you can never try on an outfit in the smaller boutique stores as there are no samples and woo betide if you actually asked to try something on before you bought it! The amount of grief I got from the assistants who kept bringing me the smallest of sizes and I knew I couldn’t get into it and I’m not that big either (size 6/8).

  15. susie_bubble

    2010-04-04 at 11:05 PM

    Louise: Great insight… and as much as I heart Topshop….three in a day is a bit too much…
    Brick Lane? Downgrade??? Oh my god, what would she think of Kingsland Road….!
    Teawithonesugar: Thankfully my mother is also a charity shop fan which probably fed my addiction…
    I don’t mind the not trying on thing given that I don’t try things on… I love using my hand spans to measure waistbands…

  16. michelle g

    2010-04-05 at 1:26 AM

    oh my gosh, I so want many of those peices

  17. MiA

    2010-04-05 at 2:40 AM
  18. All Women Stalker

    2010-04-05 at 3:10 AM

    I would move to HK permanently for those! Love the cape-like pieces 🙂

  19. k

    2010-04-05 at 5:34 AM

    Susie, as someone coming from an Asian country (Singapore), it’s probably even worse here than HK! Shopping here may pretty much be described as diluted with less of those indie boutiques around (they do exist though, just lesser!) and mega-chain stores taking over the streets/malls. Thrift stores like Salvation Army exist but the thrifting prospects there are meagre as compared to those in US!
    Furthermore, like you mentioned, due to the Asian value system, my mum cringes at the fact that I wear 30-year-old clothings from eBay. Quite amusing actually! That’s why one of my dream cities is definitely London – I just want to happily thrift / buy cheapie vintage for once! 🙁

  20. RAC

    2010-04-05 at 5:41 AM

    love love love all of this so amazing and inspiring

  21. Oneill wetsuits

    2010-04-05 at 6:50 AM

    Excellent latest fashion designs in this post.

  22. charlotte

    2010-04-05 at 8:47 PM
    Facebook – Fashionably Curious
    Central Saint Martins exhibition in London opening April 22nd

  23. Sarah Edenly

    2010-04-06 at 3:51 PM

    Great post Susie,
    Very nice pictures and some great floral designs.

  24. Jovi

    2010-04-07 at 4:59 AM

    Hi Susie, I totally agree with you, Hong Kong is lack of vintage shop, I love vintage clothes very much since 1994. I always went to Mee $ Gee, Midwest and one shop in TST then they move to Causeway Bay, the shop owner called “ar Kee”, my sister and me always go there to shopping..there are a loy of good vintage stuff:)

  25. Nickie Frye

    2010-04-08 at 1:37 AM

    OH MY GOSH, I totally have that floral blouse in the third photo down, on the left. It’s hanging in my studio, ready to be shot & listed in my online shop. Super cute in person, but hard to photograph b/c it has a fluttery yoke that’s hard to see when not in person. Anyway, it totally shocked me to see it here.

  26. Annie

    2010-04-08 at 6:02 PM

    and, (and I dont want to get on my high horse here) THE COMPLETE CUNTS THAT ARE THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT??!!
    sorry about that. please dont be offended.

  27. Gucci Handags

    2010-07-28 at 10:21 AM

    We turn our attention away from our own defects, and when we are forced by untoward events to consider them, find it easy to condone them.

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